Yesterday, Chicago State University's (CSU's) legal counsel and vice president for labor and legal affairs Patrick B. Cage sent a cease-and-desist letter to Professor Phillip Beverly, demanding he take down his CSU Faculty Voice blog on which he and several other professors have shared concerns and criticisms about the school since 2009. Cage claimed that the blog infringes on the school's trademarks and shows a "lack of civility." FIRE has seen both arguments used previously in attempts to censor protected speech, but neither is a valid reason to shut this blog down.
In his letter, Cage writes that the blog "constitutes, among other things, trademark infringement [and] trademark dilution." Cage argues that use of CSU's name on the blog creates confusion: "Specifically, your use of the mark falsely denotes association with CSU in that the comments and views on the Blog are not those of or endorsed by the University." This might sound familiar to long-time Torch readers; the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) made the same claims in 2009 regarding a website on which a former student criticized the university. At that time, FIRE wrote to UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block pointing out that no reasonable person would think that such a site is endorsed by the university, and UCLA soon withdrew its demands for the website to be taken down.